'Crabby About Cancer' raises funds and hope
By: Leah Rosasco, Loomis News Correspondent
Wellness Within, a nonprofit organization created by a Loomis woman, is bringing its third-annual fundraiser Crabby About Cancer to The Flower Farm from 6-10 p.m., Friday, April 19 for a night of music, local food and wine, and support.
The event got its name when a Wellness Within board member lamented that cancer made her feel crabby.
“It might sound like it’s a crab feed, but it is definitely more elegant than that,” said Patti Brown, founder of Wellness Within in Roseville.
The event features the music of Sacramento-based jazz ensemble Analog Jazz, wine from Casque Wines, which recently opened a tasting room on the Flower Farm, and food from a dozen local restaurants.
“The local business community has really come together to support us and we are so grateful for that,” Brown said.
The event also includes a silent auction of more than 50 items, including golf and spa packages, an Alaskan fishing expedition and a family vacation to Disneyland.
“We tried to focus on experiences rather than just gift baskets,” Brown said.
Molly Hawks, owner of Hawks restaurant in Granite Bay, is one of the restaurateurs who will provide food for the event. Hawks said she is looking forward to supporting Wellness Within in whatever way she can.
“We get asked to participate in so many events and this one was something we were happy to help with,” Hawks said.
Like so many people, Hawks herself has been impacted by cancer since her mother was diagnosed with melanoma.
“When there is a personal connection it’s always inspiring to do something to help,” she said.
Brown, who spent 20 years in private practice as a psychotherapist, said it’s nearly impossible to meet someone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way. In most cases, Brown said, treatment for people who are diagnosed with cancer focuses largely on the medical treatment without addressing the stressors that come along with the diagnosis.
For Brown, providing patients and their families with the tools to help them deal with the emotional stress of a cancer diagnosis and get the mind and body geared toward healing became a priority. After two decades of wishing she could help people suffering from cancer, Brown founded Wellness Within.
“One way to help people with cancer is to get them the resources they need to deal with their diagnosis and their illness,” Brown said. “It’s not just about getting the hospital treatments.”
Wellness Within programs include art, nutrition, fitness, mind and body, grief support and horticultural therapy. Through group meetings, nature walks, writing, yoga, and cooking classes patients and their families learn to navigate life with cancer.
“When one person has cancer the whole family has it as well,” Brown said. “It really affects everyone.”
Last spring Allie Northern, of Sacramento, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that had spread. Since being diagnosed a year ago Northern has undergone three surgeries and radiation treatment. Now 26, Northern said one of the most difficult aspects of her diagnosis was the impact it had on her as a young woman with hopes of starting a family.
“At my age I am thinking about the future and a family and then I was diagnosed with cancer and suddenly that’s what my life was about,” Northern said.
Northern contacted Wellness Within after finding Brown’s name on the back of a booklet for cancer patients and was immediately inspired and relieved. It wasn’t until Northern had the chance to sit down and talk with someone about her feelings that she realized how much she was suffering.
“The thyroid regulates hormones so in addition to dealing with the diagnosis, my hormones were messed up and I was emotionally all over the place,” Northern said. “I felt like I was going crazy.”
Northern, who works as a therapist, credits the resources at Wellness Within with helping her to cope with the physical and emotional impacts of her illness. Although Northern said family and friends have been supportive of her over the past year, she believes those relationships may have suffered without the help she received from Wellness Within.
“I think I would have become a lot more hardened and angry if I hadn’t gotten help,” Northern said. “The work they do is amazing and Patti is an angel to so many people.”